In New York, Trump to use gang violence to press for deportations

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK, July 28 (Reuters) - President Donald Trump will travel on Friday to a New York community shocked by a recent spate of graphic gang murders to highlight his efforts to stop illegal immigration and boost deportations.

Trump's trip to Long Island gives the president an opportunity to showcase some progress on his agenda even as other legislative efforts flounder - and some respite from the chaos of a nasty power struggle among his senior staff that blew up on Thursday.

On Friday, Trump will highlight his administration's push to deport members of the Mara Salvatrucha gang, better known as MS-13, the existence of which his White House blames on lax enforcement of illegal immigration from Central America.

"It's going to be a very forceful message about just how menacing this threat is, and just how much pain is inflicted on American communities," a senior administration official told reporters ahead of the trip.

Trump's visit comes as his Attorney General Jeff Sessions traveled to El Salvador to highlight progress on the gang crack-down.

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US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania walk the South Lawn of the White House to board the Marine One helicopter July 25, 2017 in Washington, DC. The president will be travelling to Youngstown, Ohio. / AFP PHOTO / Tasos Katopodis (Photo credit should read TASOS KATOPODIS/AFP/Getty Images)
First Lady Melania Trump joins President Trump on-stage at President Trump's Make America Great Again Rally on July 25, 2017 in Youngstown, OH. (Photo by Kyle Mazza/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
First Lady Melania Trump speaks at President Trump's Make America Great Again Rally on July 25, 2017 in Youngstown, OH. (Photo by Kyle Mazza/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
First Lady Melania Trump joins President Trump on-stage at President Trump's Make America Great Again Rally on July 25, 2017 in Youngstown, OH. (Photo by Kyle Mazza/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. First Lady Melania Trump walk across the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. During an Ohio rally Trump said that Republicans are a 'step closer' to repealing Obamacare after the Senate�agreed to begin floor debate�on the health-care bill. Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. First Lady Melania Trump walk across the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. During an Ohio rally Trump said that Republicans are a 'step closer' to repealing Obamacare after the Senate�agreed to begin floor debate�on the health-care bill. Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 25: U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump cross the South Lawn after arriving at the White House July 25, 2017 in Washington, D.C. The Trumps were returning from a rally in Ohio. (Photo by Zach Gibson-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 25: U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump cross the South Lawn after arriving at the White House July 25, 2017 in Washington, D.C. The Trumps were returning from a rally in Ohio. (Photo by Zach Gibson-Pool/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive at a Make America Great Again rally at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown, Ohio, on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. (Mike Cardew/Akron Beacon Journal/TNS via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 25: U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump cross the South Lawn after arriving at the White House July 25, 2017 in Washington, D.C. The Trumps were returning from a rally in Ohio. (Photo by Zach Gibson-Pool/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump disembark from Air Force One upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, July 25, 2017, following a trip to Ohio for a campaign rally. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
YOUNGSTOWN, OH - JULY 25: U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk off the stage after a rally at the Covelli Centre on July 25, 2017 in Youngstown, Ohio. The rally coincides with the Senates vote on GOP legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. (Photo by Justin Merriman/Getty Images)
YOUNGSTOWN, OH - JULY 25: U.S. President Donald Trump arrives with first lady Melania Trump for a rally at the Covelli Centre on July 25, 2017 in Youngstown, Ohio. The rally coincides with the Senates vote on GOP legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. (Photo by Justin Merriman/Getty Images)
YOUNGSTOWN, OH - JULY 25: First lady Melania Trump arrives for a rally attended also by U.S. President Donald Trump at the Covelli Centre on July 25, 2017 in Youngstown, Ohio. The rally coincides with the Senates vote on GOP legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. (Photo by Justin Merriman/Getty Images)
YOUNGSTOWN, OH - JULY 25: U.S. President Donald Trump arrives with first lady Melania Trump for a rally at the Covelli Centre on July 25, 2017 in Youngstown, Ohio. The rally coincides with the Senates vote on GOP legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. (Photo by Justin Merriman/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive for a Make America Great Again rally at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown, Ohio, July 25, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive for a 'Make America Great Again' rally at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown, Ohio, July 25, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
YOUNGSTOWN, OH - JULY 25: First lady Melania Trump listens as U.S. President Donald Trump addresses a rally at the Covelli Centre on July 25, 2017 in Youngstown, Ohio. The rally coincides with the Senates vote on GOP legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. (Photo by Justin Merriman/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive for a 'Make America Great Again' rally at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown, Ohio, July 25, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. First Lady Melania Trump walk to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. Trump�said he's disappointed with Attorney General�Jeff Sessions�for recusing himself from investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election, and that 'time will tell' if the nation's top law enforcement officer remains in his job. Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he and First Lady Melania Trump depart from the white house on route to Ohio, in Washington, U.S., July 25, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump board Air Force One for travel to Ohio from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. July 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump kisses first lady Melania Trump after she introduced him at a rally with supporters in an arena in Youngstown, Ohio, U.S. July 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump board Air Force One for travel to Ohio from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. July 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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The gang took root in Los Angeles in the 1980s in neighborhoods populated with immigrants from El Salvador who had fled civil war. The Justice Department has said MS-13 now has more than 10,000 members across the United States.

On Long Island - not far from the New York City borough of Queens, where Trump grew up - MS-13 was behind the murders of two teenage girls in a suburban neighborhood last September, and four young men in a park in April.

There have been 17 murders on Long Island tied to the gang since January 2016, the Suffolk County Police Department has said.

Under Trump, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has targeted the gang, deporting more than 2,700 criminal gang members in fiscal 2017, up from 2,057 in the whole of the previous fiscal year, the White House has said.

"We are throwing MS-13 the hell out of here so fast," Trump said earlier this week at a rally in Ohio.

Trump made concerns about illegal immigration a centerpiece of his campaign. One of his first actions in office was to scrap Obama-era guidelines that prioritized convicted criminals for deportations.

His administration is now taking a harder line on Central American youth who have crossed the border illegally without guardians - a group that law enforcement has said has been targeted for recruitment by MS-13.

Immigration agents plan to target teenagers who are suspected gang members, even if they are not charged with any crime, according to a memo seen by Reuters.

But civil rights groups say police and immigration agents have unfairly targeted some teenagers.

"We received complaints in recent weeks from terrified parents on Long Island that teens have already been detained on the thinnest of rationales, such as wearing a basketball jersey," said Sebastian Krueger from the New York Civil Liberties Union.

There have been at least two lawsuits filed by people claiming they were mistakenly included in gang databases and then targeted for deportation, said Paromita Shah, from the National Immigration Project at the National Lawyers Guild.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Mica Rosenberg; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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